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Allegheny Valley School Board to vote on hiring police officer

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, 11:00 p.m.

The Allegheny Valley School Board is looking to put a police officer in the district's schools, but how it's done will determine who controls that officer.

The board's three-member emergency management committee has recommended the district hire a school police officer, who would be a district employee answerable to the superintendent.

But some board members say they would prefer a so-called school resource officer, who would be a municipal officer under the command of his or her police chief.

The school board is scheduled to vote Monday to create the position of school police officer and approve a job description for it.

That vote should make plain which type of officer a majority of the board wants.

The district has applied to the state for a three-year, $60,000 grant.

While the full annual cost of a school police officer is not yet known, Superintendent Pat Graczyk said the grant would provide $40,000 in the first year, covering most of the cost, and $20,000 in the second year; the district would bear the full cost in the third year.

The school board included money for an officer in this school year's budget, even if the district doesn't get a state grant.

The officer would be armed.

Board member Elizabeth Moretti said the emergency management committee, of which she is a member, is recommending a school police officer because it would give the district more control.

Moretti said it would also remove having to deal with politics in the municipalities, which board member Annetta Jursa said is why she favors a school police officer.

“This is what we feel would fit our district at this time,” Moretti said.

Board member Donald Rocco said he would prefer a resource officer, in large part because it would provide for an officer in all of the district's schools and not just one at a time.

“I hope my child isn't in the school that isn't covered,” he said.

Rocco and School Director Salvatore Conte said there had been no discussion of one type versus the other, and no vote had been taken.

Conte said the board has not been given all the options and costs, such as for having two school police officers.

“I would like to see both schools covered,” Conte said.

Moretti noted that now, none of the district's schools is covered.

“This is a starting point for us,” Moretti said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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